My First (and Only) Bowling Trophy
The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Revelation 3:12
When I was young, I joined the local bowling league for kids. Every Saturday morning one summer, I rode my bike downtown, paid my two dollars, and bowled. Some things are forever stuck in my memory, like my first score – a 35. I was terrible. But I kept showing up and I kept practicing. By the end of that summer, my high score was 127, which earned me the Most Improved trophy. I didn’t know that was a thing, but you can bet I was profoundly proud of that trophy. I didn’t bowl all season for a trophy – I just wanted to be better. But the trophy was a much-appreciated reward for my efforts.
In today’s passage, though it doesn’t involve a bowling trophy, Christ described an eternal reward for those who remain faithful to him in this life. Using the imagery of a pillar in the temple God, he said our names will be written on it, signifying that we’ll spend eternity in heaven in his presence. Eternal paradise is the trophy that awaits the faithful.
Because I’ve never seen the afterlife though, and because I have trouble living beyond today, I don’t find myself very motivated by this. Yes, I want to go to heaven – not hell. But in my daily decisions, this just doesn’t carry as much weight as it probably should. My life problem is that I’ve always preferred immediate gratification over delayed gratification because it’s so much easier in the moment. Never mind that immediate gratification demands a price later. I want what I want right now. This is what led to my drug addiction. Now, in recovery, I’m still learning to think about the future. I want to be down 10 pounds in two months, but before bed, I just want to raid the fridge. I want to be who Christ wants me to be – showing Christ’s love to my neighbors – but in the moment of opportunity, I just want to watch TV.
We’ll never be perfect in this life, but the Christian life is meant to be one of continual growth and improvement. Daily, we’re to die to the old life so we may embrace the new one. Daily, we’re to seek God and his will for our lives. That’s the Christian life and those who embrace it await an eternal reward. Most Improved. That would be quite a trophy.